Sleepwalking? so 2012. Here's Why More of Us Are Sleep-Texting

by Lexi Petronis


photo: Kyle Ericksenphoto: Kyle EricksenHow nearby is your phone when you go to bed at night? (I sometimes tuck mine underneath my pillow--why? It makes no sense!) Because so many of us have our phones at arm's length when we're sleeping, a new phenomenon has emerged: sleep-texting.

In a study of 300 people, researchers discovered that 25 to 35 percent of them had actually had text conversations (some of them entirely in gibberish) while they were still asleep. And it seems to affect plenty more: a quick Twitter search of the #sleeptexting hashtag reveals that lots of people have later found they've done it too. The researchers think that we're so in sync to the whir, beep, or buzz of a new text message, that our brains revert to automatic pilot and tell us that we need to answer it. Like, now.

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Sleep-texting usually occurs during naps, or about an hour and a half to two hours into the sleeping process--just before you drift off into a deep sleep. Like sleepwalking and sleep-talking, the messages aren't anything we'd actually do while awake. According to U.S. News & World Report:

Most often, these texts are innocent in nature; those sent by young men, for example, often revolve around food: "I'm starving. Let's get a pizza! Let's go work out." One young woman [Elizabeth Dowdell, a nursing professor at Villanova University] studied, however, had a tendency to wax romantic when she texted as she slept. "A classmate texted her something about anatomy class, and her reply back was, 'I just love it. I love you! You're the light of my life,'" Dowdell recalls. "Then there was an old boyfriend who texted her, and she sent responses like, 'I adore you, please come over,' while she was asleep. She was mortified when she realized."

Eek! Aside from the obvious OMG-what-did-I-do-ness of sleep-texting, experts say that the process can disrupt your sleep cycle. Says one sleep researcher: "When we're not fully engaged in [sleep] and not getting the amount we need, we're not having the same restorative effect on our brains. And that affects our cognitive ability the next day."

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To keep the possibility of sleep-texting at bay, keep your phone out of immediate reach while you're sleeping, set it to "silent," or just turn the thing off.

I'm relieved that I have never before sleep-texted. But is it wrong that I kind of hope someone sleep-texts me, just because I think it would be funny?

Have you ever sleep-texted--or received a sleep text?

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